Mickalene Thomas

By Anna Schneider

Le déjeuner sur l’herbe: Les Trois Femmes Noires by Mickalene Thomas

Mickalene Thomas is an African-American artist best known for her elaborate collage-inspired paintings created using rhinestones, acrylic, felt, glitter, and enamel. Along with paintings, she works with photography, collage, printmaking, video art, sculpture, and installation art. Her work is inspired by Western art history and pop art and it centers around femininity, beauty, race, sexuality, and gender.

Mickalene Thomas was born on January 28, 1971. In 2000, she received her B.F.A. from the Pratt Institute and in 2002 she received her M.F.A. from Yale University School of Art. She founded the Josie Club with her partner, collaborator and subject Racquel Chevremont. The Josie Club is a support network for queer female artists of color to help sponsor, fundraise and support their work. Thomas has received many awards and grants for her artwork.

One of Thomas’s most well known artworks is Le déjeuner sur l’herbe: Les Trois Femmes Noires, which translates to The Luncheon on the Grass: The Three Black Women. It is a take on Édouard Manet’s 1863 painting Le déjeuner sur l’herbe. The posing of the subjects in Thomas’s painting are similar to Manet’s, but the subjects themselves are different. Thomas’s painting portrays three black women dressed in bright, vibrant colors and glamorous Afros. Thomas said that her painting, like many of her other artworks, was inspired by Dada, cubism, and the Harlem Renaissance. The painting was created in 2010 as a display piece for the Museum of Modern Art’s museum restaurant on 53rd street in New York City. 

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